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Will Djibouti pay the price for the Ethiopian internal conflict?

The fighting between the Tigrayan forces and the Ethiopian army directly threatens Djibouti. The country fears indeed for its cross-border trade, an essential resource of its economy, anchored to the Ethiopian neighbor.

In Ethiopia, the conflict between the government of Abiy Ahmed and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (TPLF) takes a dangerous turn. Fighters from the former ruling party approach Addis Ababa and threaten to take the city, which could plunge the entire country into civil war. The African Union called for an immediate ceasefire and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta traveled to Addis Ababa on November 14 to meet with Abiy Ahmed and Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde.

Risk of overflows

The humanitarian situation in Ethiopia is already very serious. In this conflict which has lasted for a year, the dead number in the thousands and the displaced people in the millions. Both sides have been accused of war crimes by the UN. That’s not all: if Abiy Ahmed’s government collapses, the consequences will be catastrophic not only for the multi-ethnic East African giant that is his country, but also for its neighbors, including Djibouti, which manages 95% of Ethiopia’s maritime trade, landlocked.

Djibouti President Ismaël Omar Guelleh seems to have built the entire economic future of his country on his role as the gateway to Ethiopia. This allowed it to attract significant Chinese investments to build infrastructure, but also caused it to alienate its traditional partners. Ethiopia is seeking to diversify its trade routes and is already looking to other horizons. Guelleh therefore risks being confronted with major challenges in the years to come, including in the unlikely event that the Ethiopian conflict is resolved without further bloodshed.

The TPLF ruled Ethiopia with an iron fist for several decades, until it was ousted by Abiy Ahmed in 2018. In November 2020, the simmering tensions between the two parties reached their breaking point when Abiy Ahmed accused the Tigrayan forces of attacking a federal army base, then hired


Drafting committee

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The East Africa Monitor is an English-language news portal providing information on the Greater East Africa region. The site aims to publish unbiased reports without an agenda on the key events that unfold.


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